House of Delegates Passes Bill To Reduce The Votes Required To Amend Bylaws

By a vote of 135-0, the Maryland House of Delegates has passed legislation that would reduce the percentage of affirmative votes required to amend condominium bylaws.  Under Section 11-104(e) of the Maryland Condominium Act, condominium bylaws may only be amended upon a vote of two-thirds (66 2/3 percent) of the unit owners.  House Bill 789 would reduce this to 55 percent.  Significantly, it would also permit the bylaws themselves to establish a percentage as low as 51%.  Additionally, the bill would limit the voting to members in “good standing, ” which is defined as not being more than 90 days in arrears with regard to assessment payments.  The original version of the bill would have also allowed voting to be denied to any member in violation of a provision of the declaration, bylaws or rules and regulations, but this provision was removed in the final version that was approved.

The proposed legislation contains similar provisions to reduce the percentage vote required for bylaw amendments under Section 11B-116 of the Maryland Homeowners Association Act.

2017 Baltimore Orioles – The Remaining Roster Spots

Pitchers and catchers report to Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida today as the Baltimore Orioles begin spring training for the 2017 season; so it is time for me to step back from condo law for a moment and provide my annual commentary on the state of the team.  This year, I would like to focus on completing the position-player roster.  Here are the current options as I see them: (more…)

Ober Kaler Joins Baker Donelson

Effective January 1, Ober|Kaler joined the national firm, Baker Donelson. The combined firm maintains the name Baker Donelson and has more than 800 attorneys across 25 offices in ten states and Washington, D.C.  I am excited and privileged to begin 2017 as a Baker Donelson shareholder in their Baltimore office, and look forward to continuing communications and sharing of information with the many readers and followers of this blog.

Ober Kaler is Combining With Baker Donelson

My firm, Ober Kaler, will be combining with the well-respected national law firm Baker Donelson.  The Baker Donelson firm presently has more than 700 attorneys and public policy advisors representing more than 30 practice areas across 21 offices in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C.  This combination will bring together two strong firms with national reputations for exceptional client service.  It is anticipated that this combination will be effective January 1, 2017.  The combined firm, which will maintain the name of Baker Donelson, will rank among the 50 largest law firms in the country, with more than 800 attorneys and advisors across 25 offices in nine states as well as Washington, D.C.   I am looking forward to continuing my construction, litigation and real estate practice as part of this dynamic merger.

Maryland General Assembly Rejects Legislation That Would Have Aided Condominium Councils and Unit Owners In Pursuing Building Defect Claims

Legislation introduced in the Maryland General Assembly that would have prevented developers from including provisions in condominium governing documents that limit the developer’s liability for construction defects failed to reach a floor vote during the 2016 session. Senate Bill 250 and House Bill 1170 proposed to prohibit provisions in the declaration, bylaws or rules and regulations that limit the ability of a council of unit owners to file suit on behalf of itself or the unit owners or enforce warranty claims. The proposed new law would also have precluded limits on the rights of condominium councils or individual unit owners to bring claims relating to an alleged failure of the developer to comply with building codes, county approved plans and specifications, product manufacturer’s installation instructions, and other construction industry standards. Proposed new Section 11-134.1 of the Maryland Condominium Act would have prohibited provisions designed to prevent the filing of a claim within the applicable period of limitations or prevent claims from accruing pursuant to the “discovery rule.” The new law would also have precluded provisions requiring a vote of the unit owners approving the initiation of a claim, unless such a requirement is adopted after the unit owners assume control of the community from the developer.

Legislation In Maryland General Assembly Would Protect Condo Construction Defect Claims

The Maryland General Assembly is again considering legislation that would prevent residential condominium developers from including certain provisions in the project’s governing documents or sales contracts that limit the developer’s liability for construction defects. Senate Bill 570 and House Bill 829 would prohibit provisions in the declaration, bylaws or rules and regulations that limit the ability of a council of unit owners to file suit on behalf of itself or the unit owners or enforce warranty claims. The proposed new law would also preclude limits on the rights of condominium councils or individual unit owners to bring claims relating to an alleged failure of the developer to comply with building codes, county approved plans and specifications, product manufacturer’s installation instructions, and other construction industry standards. Proposed new Section 11-134.1 of the Maryland Condominium Act would prohibit provisions designed to prevent the filing of a claim within the applicable period of limitations or prevent claims from accruing pursuant to the “discovery rule.” The new law would also preclude provisions requiring a vote of the unit owners approving the initiation of a claim, unless such a requirement is adopted after the unit owners assume control of the community from the developer. (more…)